The start of the MLB season is tantalizingly close. Technically it was actually over a week ago, but the only person who counts that is the Commissioner. For the rest of baseball, the season begins in earnest this week. Here in Baltimore, the O’s will attempt to build off of their successive winning seasons, and again push towards a post-season birth. That last line is still weird to write knowing the tenor of the previous 15 seasons here in Baltimore. So with that said, we had the O’s writing staff here at BSL give their predictions for the divisions, the playoffs, and who is going to win the awards at season’s end.
Discuss this post and your 2014 predictions on the BSL forums here.
Gary Armida has already done a terrific job breaking down the rest of the AL East, and each of those is a must read (Tampa Bay Rays | New York Yankees | Boston Red Sox | Toronto Blue Jays). This will be more of a high level overview of the other divisions, and basically how we see the season playing out. Without any further adieu, we’ll start by taking a look at the American League:
- The American League divisions seem to be pretty straight forward with three of four analysts agreeing on any given division
- All four analysts have the Rays, Tigers, and Athletics making the playoffs
- Only Chris Stoner has the O’s in as of right now, and every analyst has multiple AL East teams making the playoffs
The defending world champs got surprisingly little love in our poll, with two of us having them in the playoffs. Additionally, last year only one BSL Analyst had the Athletics in the playoffs, but now all four of us do. The A’s out-performed expectations last season by a wide margin, but there’s reason to believe they can do it again.
The National League is even more top heavy according to the analysts here at Baltimore Sports and Life:
- All four of us agree on the three division winners: Washington, St. Louis, and Los Angeles
- All four analysts also have the Pirates making the playoffs as a wild card team
- Only Gary Armida differed from the rest of us by having San Francisco as a wild card team in lieu of Atlanta
There’s a lot of consensus here and it’s pretty easy to see why. On paper it would be difficult to see any teams unseating the division winner picks we’ve outlined. The most competitive division will likely be the NL Central, with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati with realistic shots at the playoffs. The biggest question mark is how the NL West will play out, and if any of the intriguing teams like San Diego or San Francisco can make a run at the Dodgers.
With a lot of agreement on who makes the playoffs, it would make sense that the way we see the playoffs playing out would be similar as well:
- All four analysts have the Rays playing in and winning the World Series
- Three of the four analysts have the Nationals playing against the Rays, while I believe the Dodgers get in on the back of their ridiculous rotation
- Three of the four analysts believe the World Series will take 6 games, while Gary sees it going the full 7 games
So who does the BSL team see taking home the awards at the end of the season? Our AL and NL picks are below:
- All four of us have Kershaw winning the NL Cy Young and Trout winning the AL MVP
- Three of the four of us have Darvish finally winning the AL Cy Young, while Chris thinks Verlander will “bounce back” and win the Cy Young
- The NL MVP, AL RoY, and NL RoY were the selections where the opinions differed most significalty
For NL MVP Chris and Patrick have McCutchen winning the NL MVP which makes a ton of sense. As does my pick, Joey Votto. Gary went out on a bit of a limb with Harper, but he has the talent to win if he can put together a full season and stay healthy.
As for the RoY awards, there is some difference in opinion. These are the hardest awards to predict because of unknown playing time and a dozen other factors. That said, Chris and I took the safe route in the AL with Masahiro Tanaka, the $150+ Million pitcher from Japan. Patrick took standout SS Bogaerts who will certainly get the playing time and definitely has the talent to win the award. Gary again went out on a bit of a limb with Yordano Ventura, who had a ridiculous spring and won a spot in KC’s rotation. If he can translate his raw talent into performance, he’s as good a choice as any.
In the National League, there are a few obvious options with big flaws to pick from. Hamilton is among the most buzz worthy rookies in 2014 because of his blazing speed. However there are legitimate concerns about his ability to hit enough to use his speed which could put a damper on his Rookie of the Year campaign. Chris’ pick d’Arnaud is another guy who has immense talent but gets hit by the injury bug often. If he stays healthy his skill behind the plate could earn him a trophy. My selection is risky because Taveras isn’t guaranteed playing time on a deep Cardinals team, but he’s one of the best young players still in the minors.
We’ll see how the season plays out and who will be right or wrong once it’s all said and done. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that many of our predictions will be wrong, which is honestly part of the beauty of MLB’s 162 game season. It may seem like 6-8 teams in each league have separated themselves at this point but injuries and performance can change things very quickly.
Baseball season is right around the corner, and the team here at BSL anxiously awaits Opening Day and that first pitch of the season.